On Saturday night, while watching the Olympics, I learned that there is a British swimmer named Hannah Miley. As a mom of a 10 year old, I found this amusing as my daughter has been thoroughly obsessed with the Disney show Hannah Montana where the lead character is played by Miley Cyrus.
I was curious as to how the search engines would handle a search for Hannah Miley. Would the results be completely dominated by the increasingly scandalous teen queen? Or would there at least be one mention of the Olympic athlete?
First, I checked out Google. After all, they're the best search engine in the world and everyone knows it except people in China (who prefer Baidu) and southeast Asia (who prefer Yahoo). Perhaps we should learn something from this year's Olympic hosts and their neighbors.
Google had ZERO results for Hannah Miley the swimmer on their front page. They didn't even pull results from their news search product, which does have results about the swimmer - during the Olympics! Tsk. Tsk.
Next, I moved onto Microsoft's Live Search. I was greeted with an photo of an Olympic event as the background and part of their new home page design. The first result for Hannah Miley was about the British swimmer!
The main link was to NBCOlympics.com, who is partnering with Microsoft for the Olympics. Then there were several site search links below to send searchers automatically to more detailed information they might be looking for.
You might say that's cheating, that it's not part of some supreme algorithm. I say, it's useful and relevant information for searchers and most will not particularly care how it got there.
Plus, Microsoft did include a link to Hannah Miley's wikipedia page as part of their "regular" result, something the googlebot ignored.
Last, I headed to Yahoo. They served up some news results for the Hannah Miley search. The first one was for the British swimmer and the second was for the Disney star. Then the organic results are dominated by the latter, save for one result from Zimbio.com about the athlete.
So that's how the "big three" search engines are handling the 2008 Olympics. Microsoft clearly takes the gold, Yahoo is half-heartedly participating, and Google is sitting out the games altogether.
And if you think it's unfair of me to use a search for "Hannah Miley" as the basis for such a statement. Check out the screenshots below for a search for American superstar swimmer Michael Phelps and tell me who's serving up the best results. (This time Yahoo wins the gold!)